Josh Childress' tough start to the season has continued with the Sydney Kings star out for up to four weeks with a slight fracture in his right hand following his side's 11-point loss to the Adelaide 36ers on Friday.
After missing the first four games of the season in order to get his problematic foot ready, Childress said he jammed his hand in the second quarter and knew instantly he was in trouble. He will miss the Kings' next four to six games with the injury known as the 'boxer's fracture'.
Childress starred with a game-high 23 points on Friday.
Childress was a broken man after the game and could not believe his terrible luck in his comeback match.
"I can't catch a break, man," Childress said. "I hope it's not too bad. As an athlete you go through an entire summer of training, you try to get ready for the season and to have two injuries, it's pretty frustrating. But I'm going to keep my head up and hopefully I can come back better than I was."
The good news is Childress' foot is feeling "OK" but the bad news is his hand leaves the Kings in the middle of a four-game losing streak and possibly without a player they could draw inspiration from to help dig themselves out of their slump.
Coach Damian Cotter was oblivious to Childress' injury as he addressed the media minutes after the game had ended. Asked about the most pleasing aspect of Childress' return, Cotter said with a wry smile: "He was playing. It was good." Such a comment speaks volumes about the importance of Childress in the Kings' line-up.
"It's an amazing thing [to come back from injury]," Cotter continued. "I would say the practice that he did with us would be an exaggeration. It's amazing what he can do after a long lay-off."
Childress will either need to be at his devastating best after another long lay off, or the Kings need someone like the precocious Marcus Thornton, or the seasoned Julian Khazzouh to lift if they are to turn their season around.
The common theme post match was how the Kings could not combine their exciting brand of offensive basketball with resolute defence at the other end, something Childress, slumped in his chair post-game, conceded if they did not fix would result in another long and unsuccessful season. "I felt like I came out and was assertive and was doing some positive things, but as a team we didn't have our defence sorted," Childress said.
Guard Rhys Carter agreed with Childress, but admitted there was self-doubt creeping into the group after. "Whenever you lose a few it always gets in your head," Carter said. "I think everyone knows how good we can be. It was only less than two weeks ago we played great."